Virtual surprise party for birthday girl

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The Covid-19 lockdown is proving it is possible to be in two places at once.

Gore’s Matilda Macleod celebrated her 11th birthday with a surprise party spanning not just houses but countries.

Nine of Matilda’s friends appeared on a Zoom video call on April 6 to wish her a happy birthday.

This included her friends from Gore as well as her best friend from Australia, where the family used to live.

“They sung happy birthday,” Matilda said.

“I got a cake and I blew out the candles and made a wish”.

Her cake was handmade by her mother especially for the occasion, she said.

“The cake was great.”

She was surprised when her mother told her there were some people who wanted to speak to her.

“It was really weird,” she said.

“I didn’t know what was happening.”

Matilda’s mother Ceri said there were challenges celebrating a birthday in lockdown.

“It’s hard to keep anything a surprise when you’re in lockdown,” Mrs Macleod said.

Working from home meant that she had a useful excuse to avoid suspicion while she arranged the celebration.

“It was all under the guise of it being for work.”

She arranged birthday presents just before lockdown began, she said.

“While other people were panic buying toilet paper, I was panic buying presents.”

Lockdown was a good opportunity to slow down and savour family occasions such as birthdays, she said.

Mrs Macleod created a special birthday dinner with a “posh menu” for the family.

“Normally you would be in a rush and you wouldn’t have time to do that.”

Video calling also helped the Macleod family connect with relatives in Australia and the United Kingdom and  friends closer to home.

Younger daughter Lily (8) spent an hour connecting with a friend in Gore.

“Lily was missing her friends.”

Both daughters were also learning to play the ukulele and were able to continue their music lessons online.

“I wouldn’t have expected it to work out so well.

“The girls are thriving.

“We are making the best of it as a family. We like our bubble”.